April 1, 2013
Over the next three years, Fort HealthCare will journey to become a ‘baby-friendly’ accredited facility. The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a global program that was launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 1991 to encourage and recognize hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for infant feeding and mother/baby bonding.
“Becoming a ‘baby-friendly’ facility is a thorough journey toward excellence in providing evidence-based maternity care with the goal of achieving optimal infant feeding outcomes and mother/baby bonding,” remarked Fort HealthCare lactation consultant Bev Haferman, RN. The process compels facilities to examine, challenge and modify existing policies and procedures. It requires training and skill development among staff, and entails implementing audits to ensure quality in all aspects of maternity care.
Fort HealthCare and other hospitals and birthing centers must comply with the following guidelines for the implementation of the U.S. baby-friendly hospital initiative: have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff, train all health care staff in the skills necessary to implement the policy, inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding, help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth, show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation even if separated from baby, give infants no food or drink other than breast milk unless medically indicated, practice rooming-in (allow mothers and infants to remain together twenty-four hours a day), encourage breastfeeding on-demand, give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants, foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to groups upon discharge from the hospital or birth center.
Many of these initiatives are already routine at Fort HealthCare, but to achieve all of these guidelines, Fort HealthCare has developed high performance work teams to build additional leadership skills among staff, promote employee pride, and improve health outcomes for families in the community. For more information, visit BabyFriendlyUSA.org or FortHealthCare.com/Baby.